• Announcement
  • October 1, 2020

AEA Renames Annual Richard T. Ely Lecture

In February 2020 AEA President Janet Yellen appointed an ad hoc committee comprised of Olivia S. Mitchell (chair), Lisa D. Cook, and Gary Hoover to make a recommendation about the appropriateness of continuing to host a distinguished lecture series at the annual AEA meetings named after founder Richard T. Ely, which had been held since 1962. The ad hoc committee noted that, although Ely made positive contributions to economic thought, he also wrote approvingly of slavery and eugenics, inveighed against immigrants, and favored segregation. After reviewing the extant evidence, the committee recommended that the Association discontinue the Ely lecture and replace it with the title AEA Distinguished Lecture Series, as this would be consistent with the Association's principles of professionalism and nondiscrimination. The ad hoc committee also proposed that the AEA President-elect, when selecting the distinguished lecturer, consider a pool of names generated by a call for suggestions gathered during the Association's annual officer elections, and that the resulting list be expanded to include worthy economists from marginalized classes. The committee also encourages other institutions and departments that hold lectures named after Ely to consider renaming them. After discussion at its April 24, 2020 meeting, the Association's Executive Committee voted to rename the Ely Lecture to the AEA Distinguished  Lecture Series and to ask the membership for suggestions of potential lecturers as part of the officer election process. Read the ad hoc committee's report.